Journalism has been a very responsible job role. The great power of information dissemination and the greater responsibility of sticking to the ethics of sharing the right info, without bias.

 

The ability to tell the story associated with every news, rather than making a boring factual statement, has always been the factor judging the skills of a journalist. The hunger for quality, more than the plea for quantity – that’s how journalism has survived all these years.

 

But no more.

 

In an era where self-publishing has grown by leaps and bounds thanks to the rise of the digital network, sharing opinions and publishing stories has become accessible to the larger audience.

 

As news/content websites struggle and fight to catch the maximum eyeballs, sadly, the focus moves on from quality to one of quantity. And thus, Data Driven Journalism, where the stories are just factual reporting of what has happened and an aggregation of the timeline of activities, starts to enjoy all the limelight.Continue reading

The Traffic Signal Short Story

Red. Red. An occasional green. Again red.

I was staring at the Traffic Signal I agree. But it wasn’t because I didn’t want to see her. Heaven knows I did! I was just scared that if I watched her for too long I might not take my eyes off.

She came. Travelling a 100 kms, she came. I had an intuition she would. Somewhere deep inside I knew. And she did! Just to meet me.

The Traffic Signal was red. The cars lined up near us. We stood on the footpath, barely meters away from all these confusion. Cars honking, people shouting… It was a complete mess.

But not my day.

She stood right beside me. Looking me square in the eye. And I was again staring at the signal. Red. I knew she was looking. She was even waving her hands as if to snap me out of a dream. Only that she had no idea, she “was” the dream.

That’s exactly what was piercing me inside. I had so wanted to see her. The thing that I so badly wanted to happen for the past 2-3 days was finally happening and I stood there like a fool. Staring at the signal.

Still red.

With an occasional dialogue I would look at her. Talk face to face for some time, and then again go back to the signal.

Red.

That’s it. Her eyes. That’s what was troubling me. It wasn’t the usual look she was giving. It wasn’t the usual stare.

A couple of two wheelers rocketed through the footpath. The dust increased and we moved further inside, away from the initial dust-storm. I again looked at her. Yes. Definitely. Its her eyes. They had the look I had never seen before. Something different. Something good. How I wish time would stop for a minute. I so wanted to know what her eyes conveyed.

Red.

The cars were lining up further. I turned to her talking. Eye to eye. And that’s when I lost it.

Every person experiences a certain magical moment at various points in their life. I had just been swept into one.

Time slowed down. It seemed as if I could sense everything. From the sound of the breeze whistling through the leaves to the movement of her eyes. The wind throwing her hair over her face and she putting them back to place with an elegant swerve of her hands.

I could sense it. I could sense it all. But the only thing I could see, was the depth of her eyes. Like a calm lake that appears so mature and conservative above, and yet hides its real beauty in its deepest trench. That’s how her eyes made me feel. Like I knew they had an answer. Only, I didn’t know what it was.

I could have stood there the whole day gazing at the calm waters, trying to understand what lay in its depths. It was like a surreal calm that engulfed me. As if I was close to the answer. Close to her.

I looked away. Red.

It was time for her to go. We crossed the road to the other side. Waited for her bus. I again looked at her. Calm, composed and beautiful. I have always found her like that. Like an epitome of everything nice and wonderful. Like an epitome of everything the angels wanted to be.

I have always found her being herself.

Her bus came. She got in and sat near a window. I looked at her again. Still looking at me with that mysterious stare. Still not letting the sun rays penetrate the depth of the lake.

The bus started moving. She waved. I wanted to, but couldn’t. Just smiled. Not because I had seen the beauty of the waters. But because of the belief that I knew there lay something beautiful.

At times, its not the answer that brings happiness or joy. It’s the belief that there will be an answer. An answer that’ll not only put an end to the questions asked, but also pave the way for a million questions to be asked again.

I started walking back. Along the road, with the dust flying round me. Some of them settling and others starting off on their path of uncertainty. I stopped and turned. Looking back at the traffic signal. Wanting to know whether it had changed. Whether it had decided to answer the questions it had been asked. Whether it had traversed the calm waters and finally immersed itself in the tranquility of the depths.

Green.

 

Note : I had written this short story way back in 2011, away from the public eye. Just thought that no matter how silly it sounds, I shouldn’t be hiding it away anymore.
[Pic Courtesy - 7-themes.com]

Maveli 2015

 

This Onam, decided to give Maveli a different look and feel. A character which would reflect the present day “freak” dressing we see around a lot. If Maveli was to be around now, keeping up with the modern times, am sure he would look something like this.

An illustration of Maveli done as a hobby work.

With the advent of Social Media, the public has moved from being menial content consumers to holding a strong role as content creators. Bloggers are making an impact in the world, Tweeps decide the very fate of a marketing campaign and Facebook “Superstars” play a major role in spreading news like wildfire. And not to mention YouTube Directors who rival their Bollywood counterparts.

The concept of Citizen Journalism has existed for quite sometime. But, with Social Media gaining momentum and technology easing out newer platforms to help content creators, Citizen Journalism too, has see tremendous growth.

It’s not just the specific individuals, who take it upon them to don the role of a “Citizen Journalist”, who are making waves on the web. Common day bloggers, through their share of voice, are making themselves heard – be it on niche topics or on day-to-day matters of concern. And in due course, what has to be accepted is that, power is returning to the Common Man.

In my latest workshop addressing Journalists and a public audience at Swadeshabhimani Media Centre, Vakkom Moulavi Foundation in Trivandrum, I was asked to elaborate my thoughts on Citizen Journalism.

While I focused on the nuances of how Social Media is empowering the common man, couple of case studies on showcasing the power of Social Media when in the hands of the public and thoughts to keep in mind when starting to blog, my counterpart Bibin P Thomas enumerated on the technical aspects of how to start with a WordPress Blog and the visual aesthetics to be kept in mind.

 The main pointers/takeaways from the session were as follows –

  • The Power of a Common Man has increased thanks to Social Media
  • Elaborated on examples of Mashable, Huffington Post, LightHouse Insights and Trak.in – Blogs started by common people which have now grown to mighty levels
  • Journalists have started working with Citizen Journalists to wider their nodes of News Sources
  • Advantages of Citizen Journalism
    • Leads the professional journalist to the exact source of news
    • Spot Footage
    • Live News
    • Low Cost
    • Wider reach for news access
  • Disadvantages of Citizen Journalism
    • Lack of Professional Expertise
    • Unreliable
    • Not bound by Professional Ethics
  • Case Studies where Social Media played a positive role
    • Arab Spring of 2011
    • 2004 Tsunami – where individual blogs kept people up to date with survivor list, list of people missing, helpline numbers etc.
    • 2013 Turkey : Gezi Park Protest
  • Case Studies where Social Media played a negative role
    • RIP Morgan Freeman Facebook Page – which propagated false news of his death
    • RIP Steve Jobs – A news in CNN iReport which drastically dropped Apple’s stock price
    • #OccupyCalicutUniversity – A personal experience. An example of how even professional journalists fall into the trap of “News on Social Media”  without verifying sources. More can be read here.
  • How to stop hoaxes on Social Media
    • Be a part of the solution
    • Scrutinize the Source
    • Utilize your community
    • Share your findings with others
  • A few pointers to keep in mind while writing on the web, especially on your Blog

Write Responsibly - Citizen Journalism

The whole intent of the session was to get across the message that – “On the Internet, Everyone is Powerful“. It’s one’s own decision on whether to use the power for the good, or negatively.

As was said in the Spiderman Movie –

With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility!

And it’s upto us, the writers, the bloggers, the citizen journalists – to make sure we use it for the best.

 

Rohit Aswini Wedding Couple Caricature

Did this caricature as a Special Wedding Gift for two of my most favourite people in the World – Rohit and Aswini.

Since am not too good with drawing faces, took me around 4 hours to get the faces alone. Rest was easier after that. Outlines of the caricature done in Illustrator and rest all colouring and shading in Photoshop.